U.S. should 'harmonize' broker-dealer rules across agencies: SEC's White

Security and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White delivers her remarks while attending the Financial Security Oversight Committee hearing at the Treasury Department in Washington November 2, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators should offer standard rules for broker-dealers, and the Securities and Exchange Commission will offer its own proposal, the head of the agency said on Tuesday.

The SEC should outline a proposal to regulate broker-dealers as a way to “harmonize” rules among regulators, Chair Mary Jo White told a congressional hearing.

The U.S. Department of Labor is completing a “conflict of interest” rule that aims to stop brokers and advisers from recommending products that put their profits ahead of clients’ best interests.

The rule, proposed in April 2015, is expected to be published in coming months.

The Labor Department sets minimum standards for many pensions through the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, while the SEC has sweeping oversight to protect investors.

White said the SEC had the authority to write broker-dealer rules and that she would aim for new standards to be “as compatible as possible” with those from other agencies.

“The coordination with fellow regulators where we have overlapping jurisdiction is enormously important,” she told a panel of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.

The SEC needs $1.78 billion in the coming fiscal year, White told lawmakers. That would be an 11 percent increase over the budget for this year and would allow the agency to hire 52 more enforcement officials.

Reporting by Patrick Rucker; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Von Ahn